Beijing municipal government offices and affiliated institutions will be shifted gradually to Beijing's suburban Tongzhou district to make the city's central areas less crowded, city planning officials said on Tuesday.
The shift will include the massive development of public transportation systems in Tongzhou, including subways and intercity railways to link it with neighboring areas, as well as improved green buffer zones separating the district from Beijing's urban areas, the officials told Xinhua News Agency.
The idea is to make Tongzhou an independent new area, Xinhua reported.
Beijing's municipal government announced last week that it will expedite the development of Tongzhou, a 900-square-kilometer area east of Beijing's core, as its subsidiary administrative center. Substantial progress is expected by the end of 2017.
Currently the municipal government is housed largely in the Dongcheng district. Together with Xicheng district, it is home to many government institutions, both of the central and city governments, and to large State-owned enterprises.
The number of permanent residents in Beijing grew beyond 21 million last year, placing strain on the city's resources and environment. For example, Beijing is now one of China's most congested cities for traffic.
The permanent urban resident population is expected to be reduced by 15 percent by 2020 after a series of government moves. Tianjin municipality and Hebei province will absorb some functions, according to the municipal government.
"Based on the experience of developing international metropolises like Paris and Tokyo, building a subsidiary center can be a good solution to 'metropolis disease'," Huang Yan, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning told Xinhua.
According to Tang Liming, a senior researcher at the public policy consultancy group Anbound, Tongzhou is an ideal place for a subsidiary administrative center for Beijing.
"Tongzhou is located between Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province, and its development will greatly facilitate the development of the whole region," Tang said.
Ye Tanglin, an associate professor at Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing, said the municipal government has taken the lead in moving government offices to Tongzhou.
"The transfer will bring more public services and industries to Tongzhou and attract more people to live and work there," he said.
Massive movements of the population during workdays between suburban bedroom communities and central Beijing£which has caused serious traffic congestion during rush hours£may be avoided in Tongzhou in the future, Ye said.